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Boxes and wrappers your fast food comes in could be bad for you

Chemicals used to repel grease may leach into your food.

If you're looking for another reason to avoid fast food, this could be it.

Fast food has been criticized for being bad for your health, but now a new study published Wednesday says the grease-proof packaging the food comes in could be bad for you, too.

That's because those containers may have potentially harmful chemicals used to repel all that grease. And those chemicals can leach into the hot and greasy food you're eating, a news release says.

Researchers found those highly fluorinated chemicals (also known as PFASs) are in a lot of fast food packages. They tested packages from 27 fast food chains, including McDonald's, Wendy's, Starbucks and Panera Bread, finding fluorine was used in one-third of them.

Here's how it breaks down:

These chemicals can be bad because it takes them a long time to break down in the environment – and in people's bodies. That can cause some major health problems like cancer, thyroid disease, immune suppression, low birth weight and decreased fertility, the release says.

But don't freak out just yet

How much of the chemical leaches into your food depends on a lot of things, like the specific chemical that's used in the package, how hot the food is, the type of food it is, and how long the food was in the wrapper, CNN explains.

“It’s really difficult to make that link between what we were finding in the packaging, and how that might affect someone’s health,” Laurel Schaider, the study's lead author, told the Washington Post. “PFASs are a complex category.”

It's worth noting that many companies have voluntarily removed fluorine chemicals like long-chain PFASs from food packaging, but shorter chains are still allowed. Researchers say those haven't really been tested yet.

Also, these chemicals aren't just in fast food packaging. They're also in things like non-stick cookware, outdoor gear and furniture.

To read the entire report, click here.

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